Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Here, There, and Everywhere
A bit more of the same the past couple weeks. I've got most of my stuff moved into the girlfriends' apartment, but I'm still having to go back into Ajimu everyday for work. To their credit, the folks at the Board of Education have been very flexible with my schedule, but I do think it is kind of silly to keep me coming in to work until the last day of my contract. I mean the new guy is here already, school is over, and there really isn't too much for me to do.

So anyway, I've been spending a lot of time driving the past week, always going back and forth between my girlfriend's apartment in Hita (about an hour away) and the Ajimu BOE. I've also been keeping my toiletries in the car, and just crashing at friends apartments at times, rather than make the drive. I've gone five days without changing my underwear.

But, like I said before, to their credit the Board of Education is being fairly flexible with my schedule. As long as I show my face briefly, they let me show up late and leave early. Friday me and the new guy, Josh, got the afternoon off to go swim in the waterfall. Monday we got the afternoon off to go to Oita city and see Spider Man 2. At times, either in the midst of swimming in the waterfall or walking around in the cinema plex, Josh and I have turned to each other and said something like, "just imagine, we're on the clock right now. We're getting paid to see this movie."

The Board of Education and the Farewell Party
Because I'm still in the area, the farewell party for me and the welcome party for Josh have been combined. In March when everyone gets transferred around, the farewell and welcome parties are often combined, so I think this is the preferred way of doing it in Japan.

My relationship with the BOE is a complex one. Anytime you spend a lot of time with people, you end up developing complex relationships that are difficult to summarize in words. The best comparison I can make perhaps is with a University room mate.

Remember the first year of college. Sometime around March, after you had spent way to much time together with this new roommate you got thrown together with, someone would ask you how are things going with the roommate. At first you list off all their good traits. And then the complaints start coming. But even as the complaints are coming out of your mouth, you realize how trivial and petty they sound. No one else could possibly understand why these things bug you so much, but it is just after spending a year dealing with it everyday that it collectively begins to wear on you.

Still with me? That kind of relationship. I guess maybe you have the same thing with your office.

Really the people at the Board of Education are the nicest people I've ever met. Everytime I have a problem they drop whatever they are doing to help me solve it. Some of them have even gone as far as to loan me their personal cars for the evening when mine was in the shop, help me clean my apartment (see previous couple posts), help me pay for things that they didn't have to (like the trip to Yokohama, etc), help me set up the homestay, help me sort out my mail and my phone bills, etc, etc, etc. And yet I always find myself complaining about the small things. Like the way the person behind me interrupts me every five minutes to ask a stupid question. Or the way I come back in the afternoon, tired of speaking Japanese from being at the school all day, and the woman across the desk wants to give me a hard time about this or that.

It was like that at the good-bye party. These guys were the nicest guys in the world, and yet I really felt relieved to get out of there by the end of the night. One guy was constantly shaking my hand and embracing my shoulders and telling me I was his best friend. We went to Karaoke, and no matter how bad I sang, they really went overboard on the applause and telling me how good I was at singing. All sorts of food and drink was pushed my way until I felt sick from eating. It was all a bit too much.

And yet at the same time, I was kind of a bit touched by it as well, even as I sighed with relief as the night ended.

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